Business leaders in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have expressed support for the creation of an “All-Moro Convention,” peace mechanism being pushed by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to address the decades-old Moro rebellion problem in Mindanao.
Rima Hassan, ARMM Business Council (ABC) chairperson, on Tuesday said they supported the peace platform where all concerns about the Bangsamoro peace process will be discussed and collectively be addressed.
“We want the business sector in ARMM to be part of the ongoing discussions on changing the policy environment with regard to the peace process and how it affects doing business in the region,” Hassan said.
“There is already considerable physical safety concerns and bringing new rules of the game for business will have to be carefully considered. I am referring to the two peace tracks of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front). That’s why the business sector is supportive of the government’s all Moro convention as announced by Mindanao Development Authority Chairperson Datu Abul Khayr Alonto,” she added.
Alonto, who is also the former Mayor of Marawi City and founding member of the MNLF, has earlier said that there is a need for the government to come up with an “All-Moro Convention” to tie the loose ends of the peace tracks of the MNLF and MILF.
Alonto said the delays in the implementations of the Bangsamoro peace agreements provided the environment for local extremist groups such as the Maute and Abu Sayyaf to take advantage of the situation in some parts of Mindanao.
Hassan, who is from Basilan province, said that the month-long conflict in Marawi City has gravely “affected business prospects in the region and there is need for a stable environment for doing business to attract the needed business investments.”
“We believe the all Moro convention can effectively become a platform to address the particular conditions of our respective localities. For example, the business issues in the island provinces of ARMM tend to be more concerned with fostering cross-border trade with BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area) particularly, Sabah, Malaysia. That means trading facilities and access to cross-border credit lines,” Hassan said.
The island province of ARMM are Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao are situated in the mainland Mindanao.
Hassan said policy instability in the midst of the Marawi City siege and its aftermath is the last thing the business sector needs in the ARMM.
“In order for the peace process not to be left only in the hands of the Moro fronts and their followers and for there to be wider buy-in, there is a need for an all Moro convention that can bring the whole of Moro society to deal with governance and societal issues that affect the business environment in ARMM,” she said.
She said the MNLF and MILF still need the support of various constituencies in ARMM “so that an all Moro convention that is not dependent on both the MNLF and MILF peace tracks but allows real inputs into it is sorely needed.”
“After all, the MNLF and MILF will also be part of such an all Moro convention,” Hassan added. (Darwin Wally T. Wee/PNA)